“You can’t be neutral on a moving train,” Howard Zinn famously said. He didn’t believe in staying closeted in the academy, though he was a brilliant historian whose book, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present changed the way many people view history. Recently, a documentary based on his work, The People Speak, brought to life the many Americans whose lives and activism would otherwise have been forgotten.
Zinn died on January 27th at age 87. He lived a long, full life and was an inspiration to all of us at GRITtv. He spoke to Laura in 2008. We wrote at the time:
“With the financial crisis and the election of Barack Obama, allusions to the Great Depression, The New Deal, and FDR have become commonplace. But what can the past teach us about the current historical moment? Are the parallels useful? Historian and author Howard Zinn is well known for his People’s History of the United States. And he says that it’s still the people–from workers demanding an eight hour day to African Americans and the struggle for civil rights–who make change. Zinn says that the Chicago workers staging a sit-in are drawing on a rich and very powerful history.”